Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ham I Am

Definition of eternity; two people and a ham. ~ (old cook’s saying).

Ham or lamb seems to be the choice for Easter dinners in the US, with most of us unaware that this was due to food storage problems prior to the invention of deep freezes and trans-continental motorized shipping.  A ham could be cured from the pig slaughtered in the fall and kept safe from trichinosis and other dangers until spring.  A lamb could be slaughtered and the meat consumed within days.

Of course, modern supermarkets are kind enough to sell ham by the slice now, which is a good thing.  It’s bad enough that the spousal unit and I eat turkey for five days after Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Trying to eat up an entire pig’s haunch would about do it for me.

Fortunately there is that ducky little culinary invention, the casserole; not all of which involved boiled noodles and a can of some kind of condensed soup.  I’m looking at some of the offerings from my copy of Better Homes and Gardens Casserole Cook Book, circa 1968.  This recipe doesn’t too bad – it  includes American cheese but no other processed ingredients.

Ham-Potatoes au Gratin

¼ cup chopped green onion
¼ cup chopped green pepper
2 T. butter or margarine
1 T. all-purpose flour
dash pepper
1 c. milk

4 oz sharp process American cheese, shredded (1 cup)
¼ c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
3 medium potatoes, cooked and diced (3 cups)
1 pound cooked ham, diced (2 cups)

Cook onion and green pepper in butter until tender.  Stir in flour and pepper.  Add milk all at once and bring to boil stirring constantly.  Reduce heat; add cheese and mayonnaise; stir till cheese melts.  Combine potatoes and ham with sauce.  Bake in a 10x6x1 ½ inch  baking dish in moderate oven (350°) for30 to 35 minutes.  Makes 4-6 servings.

No salt, I notice, but the cheese probably makes up for it.  This is one of the more acceptable offerings; on the next page there’s a recipe for California Curry Platter that calls for hard-boiled eggs, ham, raisins, rice, curry powder and monosodium glutamate.


Kimberly said...

We have two small finicky boys who have never in their lives consented to eat ham, despite adoring bacon.

This year we made marinated roast chicken for Easter dinner instead. Worked like a charm.

Anne said...

1968 was the height of the fad for Accent, MSG you could sprinkle on food during cooking or at the table. I still see it on the supermarket shelves.